Baked Ziti and Garden Update

The Garden, Plan B

After getting all my early seeds in last month, we had the crazy cold weather, and as of Monday, only the spinach had sprouted.  So I hit Clark Seeds, just up the road, and bought some sprouted lettuce, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and celery (I love watching celery grow).  I then hit another plant center and topped it off with kale, kohlrabi, swiss chard and some extra spinach.  I have never had luck with spring broccoli or cauliflower, but the plants looked so healthy I decided to try again.  So here is my garden, with garlic and strawberries at the bottom, then kohlrabi, chard and my rhubarb from last year.  The empty looking area is the spinach – too small to see in this picture, on the left of that is collards. Then a row of kale, lettuce and celery.  There is the netting for the snap peas (which I replanted over the weekend) then a row you can barely see, with the broccoli and cauliflower. This is the front 1/3 of the garden.  I will be back to Plan A, with the rest of the garden in a few weeks.


The Food

There are a couple of Italian chefs I turn to whenever I want a really good, traditional italian dish.  One of my favorites is Lidia Bastianich, her recipes have never disappointed me.  So, when I thought I was going to have a houseful for dinner, I decided to use some more of my tomato sauce in her Ziti al Forno.

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I love the mix of cheeses in this, the combination of mozzarella and provolone is great.  The original recipe calls for 1pound of mozzarella, but I found that to be way too much cheese for my taste, so I reduced it to 1/2 pound.  With the 3 cheeses, there is plenty of cheese.

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Lidia calls for adding 9 fresh basil leaves to a marinara sauce, I used  a batch of my sauce which I made with an extra dose of basil, so I did not add any extra.  Basil really does add to the dish, so if you are using regular marinara, definitely add in the fresh basil leaves.

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I originally decided to make this whenI thought we would have a full house for dinner. But middayI found out it would only be the 3 of us, so I decided to make a full recipe, but divide it into 2 dishes, one of which I would bake halfway and freeze.

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Baked Ziti

Sightly adapted from Lidia Bastianich

1 pound ziti

1 pound ricotta, drained (she calls for fresh, but you can use store-bought if you do not have access to fresh)

1/2 lb low-moisture mozzarella, cut in 1-inch cubes

1 cup shredded provolone

5 cups tomato sauce or marinara


Preheat oven to 400F.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add ziti.  Cook until just al dente, about 10-12 minutes, drain.

Meanwhile, bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a large skillet.  Stir in the ricotta.

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Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Layer half the ziti on top of the sauce.  Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cubes and half the provolone.

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Pour 2 cups of the sauce over the cheese and spread in an even layer.  Top with the rest of the pasta, and spread 2 more cups of sauce on top.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.

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Dollop with the remaining sauce.

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Bake, uncovered,until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.  (If you are assembling this ahead of time, bake for 15 minutes covered with foil, then, when ready to serve, uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes).

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Serve with a nice salad.  Enjoy!

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Serves 6 – 8.


Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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